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Title: What Philately Teaches
       A Lecture Delivered before the Section on Philately of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, February 24, 1899

Author: John N. Luff

Release Date: April 26, 2005  [eBook #15713]

Language: English

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A Lecture Delivered before the Section on Philately of the Brooklyn
Institute of Arts and Sciences, February 24, 1899



New York
Third Edition


By way of preface, I wish to say, that I have prepared this paper with
the hope of interesting those who are not stamp collectors and my
endeavor will be to indicate some of the interesting and instructive
things that may be learned by those who follow this fascinating pursuit.
Much that I have to say will be ancient history to philatelists, but I
trust they will remember that this is not especially intended for them
and pardon any dryness in it, in view of its intent.

Stamp collecting, as pursued to-day, has become something more than an
amusement for children. It affords instruction and mental relaxation to
those who are older and more serious.

On the title page of every stamp album and catalogue should be inscribed
the old latin motto: "_Te doces_" thou teachest, for it is certainly an
instructor and affords much intellectual entertainment.

[Illustration: Stamp, "Hankow Local Post", 2 cents]

In connection with this motto we have a little philatelic joke from the
orient. In one of the Chinese treaty ports a stamp has been issued which
bears the motto. We find them on the tea chests, written in excellent
Chinese, and, even if we do not read the language, we cannot doubt that
they refer to the _tea doses_ which the chests contain.

By some, philately has been called a science. Perhaps it hardly merits
so exalted a title but it opens for us a wide field for research, in
which we may find many curious, interesting and instructive things. It
trains our powers of observation, enlarges our perceptions, broadens our
views, and adds to our knowledge of history, art, languages, geography,
botany, mythology and many kindred branches of learning.

[Illustration: Stamp, "Canada Postage", Christmas 1898, 2 cents]

Philately embraces the whole earth and likewise the whole earth is
sometimes embraced within the limits of a postage stamp. As an example
of this, witness the recent effort of our Canadian cousins in
celebration of the achievement of the long-desired ocean penny postage,
at present an inter-colonial rate of the British Empire, but some day to
be an international rate. The motto is a trifle bombastic and suggests
the Teutonic superlative; "So bigger as never vas," and the "Xmas 1898"
reads like the advertisement of a department store: "Gents pants for
Xmas gifts." But we must admit that the stamp is a pretty conceit, in
spite of these defects and of the ambition of the artist, which has
spread the "thin red line" over territory that has not otherwise been
acquired. In addition to the things to be learned from the pictorial
part of stamps, there are other things which attract the attention of
the thoughtful and bring with them knowledge that is both interesting
and valuable. The mechanical part of stamp making may be studied with
much profit and entertainment. Considered in all its aspects, philately
is even more instructive than matrimony. You will remember the elder
Weller's views on the latter subject: "Ven you're a married man,
Samivel, you'll understand a good many things as you don't understand
now; but vether its worth while going through so much to learn so
little, as the charity boy said ven he got to the end of the alphabet,
is a matter o' taste. I rather think it isn't." This reproach cannot be
applied to philately. It teaches even the unwilling and careless. In the
effort to fill the spaces in their albums they must learn what varieties
they are lacking and in what these differ from other and similar
varieties. Thus some knowledge must be gained, even if unsought. To the
studious and the careful, in this as in other things in life, the
greatest benefits naturally accrue.

In my remarks this evening I shall endeavor to touch upon a few subjects
which are quite certain to attract the attention of any one who takes up
stamp collecting with any degree of earnestness and thoroughness. That
these subjects open up other fields for interesting and profitable study
will be readily apparent.

Let us take a postage stamp and consider it. Aside from the name of the
country whence it emanates and the expression of value, what do we find
in it to study? First the design, next the means by which the design was
prepared and placed upon the paper, thirdly the paper upon which the
stamp is printed, and lastly the finishing touches of gum, perforation,

[Illustration: Stamp, "New Zealand", 9 pence]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Toga", 5 s.]

In the early days of stamps most countries made their own and they were,
in some degree, an indication of the artistic progress, or want of it,
in a country. But we have changed all that and to-day all effort seems
to be directed toward producing artistic and attractive stamps.
Sometimes this is due to national pride and occasionally it is intended
to draw attention to the resources and natural wonders of a country. As
an example of the latter, here are the marvelous pink terraces of New
Zealand, which were, unfortunately, destroyed by volcanic disturbances a
few years ago. But too often, we fear, these picture stamps are produced
merely with a view to their ready salability to collectors. More
frequently than not, these brilliant labels are the product of a distant
country and are no longer indicative of the artistic status of the
country by which they are issued. For example, a late issue from the
Tonga islands but made in London. Indeed, the wilds of Africa, the
distant islands of the Pacific and the tumultuous republics of Central
America far outshine the cultured countries of the old world in their
postal stationery. The designs of stamps may suggest many things: the
power of nations, the march of history, the glory of victory, the
advance of civilization, art, industry, natural resources, scenic
grandure, the dead and storied past, the living breathing present.

The majority of stamps bear a portrait, usually that of a sovereign. The
stamps of our own country present a portrait gallery of our great and
heroic dead, for by law the faces of the living may not appear on our
stamps or money. This is the reverse of the rule in monarchical
countries, where the portrait of the reigning sovereign usually adorns
the postal issues. The likeness most frequently seen on postage stamps
is that of her most gracious Majesty the Queen of England. For more than
half a century her portrait has adorned the numerous stamps of Great
Britain and the British Colonies, beginning in 1840 with a beautiful
portrait--painted by an American, we may be proud to say--the portrait
of the girl queen, wearing her coronation crown, and continuing, until
to-day she wears a widow's veil beneath the crown of the Empress of
India. In the issue by which Canada commemorated the sixtieth year of
Her Majesty's reign the two portraits are happily combined.

[Illustration: Stamp, "Canada Postage", 1837-1897, ½ cent]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Haiti", 1 cent]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Tonga", 2 d.]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Samoa Postage", 2½ pence]

[Illustration: Stamp, Siam]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Republic Liberia Postage", 1884-1892, 8 cents]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Holkar State Postage", ½ Anna]

Following the lead of Europe and America, other countries have placed
the portraits of their rulers on their stamps and from this custom we
may gain some slight information on the subject of ethnography. Hayti,
Tonga, Samoa, Siam, Liberia, Holkar, etc., have shown us types of other
races than the Caucassian. One of the stamps of Congo is adorned by a
couple of natives in local full dress which appears to be much on the
order of that of the lady in the ballad who wore a wreath and a smile.
Japan has placed on her stamps the portraits of two heroes of her late
war with China. Guatemala has the head of an Indian woman. The stamps of
British North Borneo have the arms of the company with two stalwart
natives as supporters and a similar device is used by the British
Central Africa Co. The stamps of Obock show a group of natives. The
picture is entitled "the missionary at dinner with the native chiefs."
For further particulars of the missionary enquire within.

[Illustration: Stamp, "Congo", 5 francs]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Emperial Japanese Post", 5 sen]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Emperial Japanese Post", 5 sen]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Guatemala", ½ real]

[Illustration: Stamp, "British North Borneo", 50 cents]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Brit. Central Africa", 2 s. & 6 p.]

[Illustration: Stamp, "République Française Obock", 1 ct.]

Another large group of stamps have numerals of value as their
distinguishing feature. As examples of this we find, the early issues of
Brazil and Hawaii, many stamps of Sweden, Netherlands, Denmark, etc., as
well as the postage due stamps of many countries, including our own.

[Illustration: Stamp, Brazil, "30"]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Hawaiian Postage", 2 cents]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Lösen", 1 øre]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Nederland", 2½ cent]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Danmark", 5 øre]

[Illustration: Stamp, Arabic]

In other countries only inscriptions are used. This is especially the
case with the Native States of India, in some of which as many as four
languages are said to be employed on one stamp. These are interesting
for their crude and curious designs but are not popular with collectors,
probably because of our inability to read them.

[Illustration: Stamp, Arabic]

Afghanistan has varied the idea by placing on her stamps a tiger's head
surrounded by a broad circle of inscriptions. Owing to the short comings
of native art the tiger is more often droll than ferocious.

The method of cancellation used in that country is crude but effective.
It consists in cutting or tearing a piece out of the stamp. Needless to
say, it is not popular with stamp collectors.

[Illustration: Stamp, Arabic, Hindi]

Jhalawar, one of the Native States of India, has also varied the
monotony of inscriptions by the addition of a sort of jumping-jack
figure. By some writers this is claimed to be a dancing dervish and by
others a Nautch girl. As pictured on the stamp the figure does not
present the sensuous outlines which have always been attributed to those
delectable damsels. Bossakiewicz, in his _Manuel du Collectionneur de
Timbres Poste_ says: "A dancing nymph, belonging to the secondary order
of Hindu divinities and known as an _apsara_." Here is a problem which
the next convert to philately may undertake to solve. You see there are
still worlds to conquer, in spite of all the inky battles that have been
waged by philatelic writers.

[Illustration: Stamp, "Diligencia", 60 centavos]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Escuelas", 1 centesimo]

The first stamps of Uruguay bear the inscription "diligencia"
(stagecoach), thus plainly indicating the method then employed for
transporting the mails. On some of the Venzuelan stamps is the word
"escuelas" (schools), a portion of the revenue from this source being
devoted to the maintenance of the state schools.

[Illustration: Stamp, "North Borneo", 12 cents]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Obock", 1893, 5 c.]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Sudan Postage", 1 millieme]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Correo Lima", 2 centavos]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Guatemala", 20 centavos]

[Illustration: Stamp, "New South Wales", 8 pence]

[Illustration: Stamp, "New South Wales", 1 shilling]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Newfoundloand", 5 cents]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Newfoundloand", 2 cents]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Postage W. Australia", 1 shilling]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Republic Liberia", 4 cents]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Republic Liberia", 1 dollar]

[Illustration: Stamp, "New Zealand", 6 pence]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Stamp Duty Tasmania", 6 pence]

The animal world has been thoroughly exploited by designers of stamps
and many curious products have they shown us. This creature with the
fine open countenance hails from North Borneo but it is said that
similar creatures have been seen by earnest philatelists after an
evening of study in the billiard room of the Collectors Club, followed
by a light supper of broiled lobster and welsh rarebit. Very familiar to
collectors are the camel of Obock and the Soudan, the Llama of Peru, the
sacred quetzal of Guatemala--the transmigrated form of the god-king of
the Aztecs--the lyrebird and Kangaroo of New South Wales. New Foundland
has pictured the seal and cod fish, Western Australia the black swan,
Liberia the elephant and rhinocerous, and New Zealand the curious bird
called the apterix, which is wingless and clothed in hair instead of
feathers. Tasmania shows us her animal freak, the platypus paradoxus,
the beast with a bill, first cousin to our tailors and butchers, all of
whom are beasts with bills. Our own country has added to the philatelic
"zoo" by placing a herd of cattle on one of the Trans-Mississippi issue.
That it is a pretty picture cannot be denied but the connection between
cows and postage stamps is not obvious.

[Illustration: Stamp, "New Brunswick Postage", 3 pence]

[Illustration: Stamp, Japanese, 1 sen]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Imperio do Brazil", 300 reis]

New Foundland, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have adorned their stamps
with the heraldic rose, thistle and shamrock of the British Empire.
Japan, ever artistic and ever a lover of the beautiful, has placed on
her stamps the chrysanthemum, both as a flower and in its
conventionalized form as the crest of the Imperial family. And Nepal has
the lotus, sacred to Buddha. Brazil has shown us the brilliant
constellation of the Southern Cross which sparkles in the tropic sky.

[Illustration: Stamp, "Malta", 5 shillings]

Many nations have used their coats of arms as appropriate decorations
for their postal issues. On the five shilling stamps of Malta we find
the Maltese cross, emblem of the Knights of St. John and reminiscent of
the crusades.

[Illustration: Stamp, "Postes Egyptiennes", 5 piastres]

[Illustration: Stamp, [Greek: Hellas], 2 [Greek: drachmai]]

[Illustration: Stamp, [Greek: Hellas], 1896, 5 [Greek: drachmai]]

[Illustration: Stamp, [Greek: Hellas], 1896, 10 [Greek: drachmai]]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Fiji", 1 penny]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Labuan", 8 cents]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Congo", 40 centimes]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Congo", 10 francs]

Egypt has her sphynx and pyramids; Greece an artistic series of pictures
of her famous statues and ruins. Fiji shows a pirogue, the native canoe,
rudely shaped from a tree trunk and hollowed out by fire. Labuan has a
piratical looking native dhow. The stamps of Rhodesia and the Congo
Free State depict the advance of civilization on the dark continent.
History is sumptuously illustrated in the series of stamps issued by our
Government to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the
new world by Columbus and to celebrate the settlement and growth of the
great west. Portugal also has celebrated, in an elaborate issue of
stamps, the voyage of Vasco da Gama to India. Other countries have been
quite too ready to do likewise until we have feared we were in danger of
being drowned in the flood of commemorative and celebration stamps, many
of which we felt were designed to replenish an empty treasury rather
than to honor the glorious deeds of the past.

[Illustration: Stamp, "St. Vincent", 5 shilling]

[Illustration: Stamp, "République Française", 1]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Cape of Good Hope", 1 penny]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Trinidad"]

[Illustration: Stamp, "British East Africa", ½ Anna]

Quite a number of stamps have allegorical designs. One of the most
beautiful examples comes from St. Vincent. Familiar figures to
philatelists are those of Peace and Commerce on the stamps of France,
Hope with her anchor on the issues of the Cape of Good Hope and
Britannia on several of the British Colonies. The stamps of British East
Africa bear a flaming sun and the legend "light and liberty," typical
of the light of civilization and progress now dawning upon that part of
the world. And on one of the late issues of Portugal is a beautiful
allegory of the muse of history watching Da Gama's voyage to the East.

[Illustration: Stamp, "Portugal", 1498-1898, 23 reis]

[Illustration: Stamp, Greece]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Uruguay", 50 centesimos]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Barbados", ½ penny]

From allegory to mythology is but a step. Greece has long displayed on
her stamps the winged head of Mercury and Uruguay has given us a dainty
picture of the messenger of the gods. The late issues of Barbados have a
picture of Amphitrite, the spouse of Neptune, in her chariot drawn by
sea-horses. The handsome stamps of the United States, intended for the
payment of postage on newspapers and periodicals bear the pictures of
nine of the goddesses of Grecian mythology. The stamps of China,
Shanghai and Japan introduce subjects from oriental myths. This is not a
pussy cat in a fit or trying to dance a _pas seul_ on the end of its
tail. It is one of the most venerated of the Chinese dragons. One of its
provinces is to guard the sacred crystal of life. It has a human head,
the wings of a bird, the claws of a tiger and the tail of a serpent.

[Illustration: Stamp, "Shanghai LPO", 80 cash]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Nicaragua", 1 centavo]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Estados Unidos de Colombia", 50 cents]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Venezuela", 5 c's]

[Illustration: Stamp, "State of North Borneo", 18 cents]

One of the stock arguments advanced in favor of philately, by those who
think it needs other excuse than the entertainment it affords, is that
it teaches geography. This is undoubtedly true, and, as if in support of
the argument, several countries have given us what might be called map
stamps. Of late years, it has become customary for countries to exploit
their attractions by issues of "picture" stamps, many of which show
views of local scenery. One of the first in this line came from North
Borneo, showing a view of Mt. Kimbal, a celebrated volcano of the
island. Congo has given us two pictures which are microscopic gems of
art. The first is a view of the railroad crossing the Mopoxo river and
the second the Falls of Inkissi. British Guiana has recently shown us
two of her natural wonders, Mount Roraima, a great table-topped
mountain, and the Kaiteur Falls. New Zealand has an extensive series of
views, one of the most striking of which is Mount Cook. Among the latest
of these attractive issues is one from Tonga, which includes a picture
of a wonderful work of the pre-historic inhabitants of those islands, a
tri-lithon, believed to have been erected as a burial place and monument
of a chieftain. In its arrangement and massive simplicity it is
suggestive of the Druidic ruins of other lands.

[Illustration: Stamp, "Congo", 50 centimes]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Congo", 25 centimes]

[Illustration: Stamp, "British Guayana", 1897, 1 cent]

[Illustration: Stamp, "British Guayana", 1897, 2 cents]

[Illustration: Stamp, "New Zealand", 5 pence]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Toga", 3 d.]

[Illustration: Stamp]

Crowns and post-horns figure on many stamps and both are significant of
the authority and purpose of these seemingly trifling bits of paper. An
interesting combination of these two emblems is found on one of the
newspaper stamps of Hungary. In this case the crown is not merely a
creation of the artist's fancy but the historic crown of Saint Stephen,
the "iron crown of Hungary," so called because it has within its rim an
iron band said to be made from one of the nails of the cross.

In all these subjects of thought I have mentioned only a few examples
under each head. The number might be multiplied many times, did I not
fear to weary you.

But, turning from the purely pictorial side, let us consider the
material side of stamps and the various methods employed in producing
them. The design having been selected, it becomes necessary to reproduce
it in some form suitable for making stamps in large quantities. In a
general way we may divide stamp printing into two classes: printing from
metal plates and printing from stone, or lithography. The first class
contains two grand sub-divisions. In the first of these sub-divisions
the lines to be reproduced are sunken below the surface of the plate.
This is known as _taille douce_ or line engraving. It is also called
copper plate and steel engraving. The copper plates for our visiting
cards are familiar examples of this style of work and our national paper
currency presents very beautiful and elaborate results of the process.

The second sub-division is known as typography or surface printing. As
its name indicates, the lines to be reproduced are at the surface of the
plate, the other parts being cut away. A newspaper is an example of
typographical printing, the term being applied to designs made up from
type, as well as to specially prepared plates.

I need not suggest to you how wide a field for thought and exploration
this subject of engraving opens to us, leading as it does directly into
the world of books, pictures and art. But at present we must confine
ourselves to the subject as applied to postage stamps, save for a brief
consideration of its origin and history.

The art of engraving owes its origin to the Florentine goldsmiths of the
fifteenth century. They were accustomed to ornament their work with
incised lines which were filled with black enamel. A design thus filled
with enamel was called a _niello_, a derivative of the word _nigellum_
(the most black). The brass and nickel signs with black letters, which
we find at the doors of business houses, are modern forms of _nielli_.
While making a _niello_, the artist naturally wished to see how the work
was progressing and if any alterations were required. It was not
desirable to put the enamel in the design because it was difficult to
remove. To avoid this an impression of the work was taken in clay, from
which a sulphur cast was made. The lines of the cast were filled with
lamp black. Thus a copy of the work was obtained which reproduced its
coloring and showed the condition of the engraving. A more simple
process was discovered later. This consisted in filling the lines of the
engraving with a thick ink and pressing a sheet of damp paper against
them. Sufficient pressure was used to force the paper into the lines and
take up the ink on its surface. This was the beginning of line engraving
and plate printing. The process was at first employed for the
preservation and duplicating of designs for goldsmith's engraving and
afterwards for the sake of the work itself. It was not until the next
century that the process assumed a leading place in the world of art. If
it were not going too far away from our subject we might study the early
engravers and their work with much profit and entertainment. But it is
our purpose to consider the subject only so far as it applies to postage

Until the early part of the present century copper was practically the
only metal used for engraving. Only a limited number of impressions can
be taken from a copper plate because it wears rapidly, and it is not
suited to such work as the production of postage stamps. About 1830 the
way was found to make steel of sufficient softness and fineness of grain
to be available for engraving. To-day annealed steel is almost
exclusively used for this purpose. Annealed steel is steel which has
been softened without being decarbonized. The surface is carefully
ground and polished to a mirror-like brightness. Any work which is to be
reproduced many times, such as postage stamps and parts of bank-notes,
is made on small pies of steel called dies.

If the design to be used is in the shape of a drawing or engraving, a
sheet of gelatin may be laid over it and the outlines traced with a
sharp-pointed instrument. More often a photograph is taken on a
ferrotype plate and the outlines scratched into the plate. These
outlines are filled with vermilion. A piece of paper is then laid on the
plate and the two passed through a hand-press. This is called "pulling"
an impression. While the ink of the impression is still moist it is
sprinkled with powdered vermilion to strengthen the lines. The block of
steel is then covered with an etching ground (a composition of
asphaltum, wax, resin and ether) and the impression is transferred to
this. The outlines are cut through the etching ground and bitten into
the steel with acid. The coating is then removed from the block and the
artist proceeds with the engraving. The mechanical details and various
methods of engraving are highly interesting but time will not permit
their discussion.

An engraver is seldom expert in more than one style of work. Each makes
a specialty of some branch, portraiture, lettering, scroll-work, etc.
For this reason several engravers are usually employed on each die for a
postage stamp. And in this inability of one individual to do all styles
of work equally well lies one of the great securities against

In the course of making a die, proofs are usually taken and these are
much prized by collectors.

The die being finished, it is placed in a bath of cyanide of potassium
and heated until the vessel containing it is red hot. This process
occupies from fifteen minutes to half an hour for dies but may take as
much as an hour for a large plate. The die is then transferred to a bath
of oil, to cool and temper it. By this process it is thoroughly

[Illustration: From "The Popular Science Monthly," Vol. XLVI, No. 5.
Copyright, 1895, by D. Appleton & Co.]

In the case of postage stamps, where it is desired to exactly duplicate
the design many times on a plate, recourse is had to transfer rolls. A
transfer roll is a piece of soft steel, in shape a cross section of a
cylinder. The edge is sufficiently wide to receive an impression from
the die. We show you here a picture of a transfer press. From each side
of the roll projects a small pin or trunion. These pins form an axle
for the roll and by them it is held in the carrier of the press. A is
the roll in the carrier. The die is placed on the table or bed B. The
roll is held against the die with a pressure of many tons, obtained by
compound leverage. By means of the wheel, E, and the connecting pinion
and rack, the bed, carrying with it the die, is moved back and forth
under the roll. This is called "rocking" and by it the soft steel of the
roll is forced into the die and a reverse impression of the design is
obtained. The roll is then hardened and, by a reversal of the process,
impressions from it are transferred to the steel plate from which the
stamps are to be printed. The plate is, of course, soft at first and is
hardened after the required number of designs have been transferred to
it. This process is so perfect that the most delicate lines of the die
are repeated with absolute fidelity on the plate. When many plates of a
stamp are likely to be needed, it is customary, in order to avoid risk
of wear or damage to the original die, to make duplicate dies, called
transfer dies, and from them the necessary rolls to make the plates.

The plates are made with great care. They are touched up by hand and
subjected to close scrutiny and the work is often gone over a number of
times before the result is pronounced satisfactory. Incidentally any
guide lines and marks used by the transferrer are removed by burnishing.
In the older issues of United States stamps, such lines and dots are
frequently found on the stamps but the later issues are very free from

Plates that have become worn are "re-entered," that is to say, the
transfer roll is applied to the plate in the original position and the
lines thus sharpened and deepened. If, by any mistake in making or
re-entering a plate, the roll is incorrectly placed and then changed to
the correct spot, a double impression of some of the stronger lines will
result. This is called a "double transfer" and sometimes, though
wrongly, a "shifted die." These double transfers are quite common in the
United States stamps made before 1861 but are scarce in the late issues,
either because the work is now more carefully done or because any
mistakes have been corrected. Such a correction is effected by turning
the plate on its face on a hard substance, hammering on the back until
the surface is driven up smooth and then entering the design anew.

A number of very delicate machines are used as aids to the engraver,
though much more for bank-notes and large pieces of work than for
postage stamps. These are called ruling machines, medallion rulers,
cycloidal and geometric lathes. Ruling machines are used to make the
backgrounds of portraits, the shadings of letters and similar work.

[Illustration: Coin Stamp, "New South Wales", 5 shillings]

Here is a very pretty example of ruling, in the so-called "coin" stamp
of New South Wales. These machines rule either straight or curved lines.
They can be adjusted to rule several thousand lines to an inch, but that
is only done for microscopical work, not for engraving. The general
principle of a medallion ruling machine is a rod, fixed on a pivot, at
one end of which is a pin which is drawn across a medallion, while at
the other end a graving point traces a corresponding line on the steel.
The large stamps issued in the United States in 1865, for the payment of
postage on newspapers and periodicals, are examples of this work.

Cycloidal ruling in its simplest form resembles a series of loops. It is
produced by a fixed point which is held against a plate while the latter
is moved in a circle and, at the same time, forward. By altering the
size of the circle and the speed of the forward movement a great variety
of results are obtained. By cutting one series of loops over another,
lace-like effects are produced. The process is still further varied by
the use of eccentrics.

[Illustration: Ruling Patterns]

The geometric lathe is a most delicate and complicated machine. By means
of elaborate attachments very involved and eccentric motions are given
to the plate under the graving point and extremely complicated and
beautiful designs are produced. I think we are all familiar with these
from the examples on our national currency. Geometric lathework was used
on a number of the United States stamps of the issue of 1861 and also on
the $5,000 revenue stamp. The work of this machine is regarded as a
great safeguard against counterfeiting. The most skillful engraver would
have difficulty in imitating the simplest designs produced by it. The
machines are too expensive to be obtained by anyone but a government or
a great banknote company and there are very few men who thoroughly
understand operating them. A turn of a screw or a variation of a single
cog will change the result entirely. Finally the work of the lathe is
often reversed, so that the line which is cut by the graver and should
print in color prints white, and vice versa. It would not be possible to
imitate this by hand engraving.

Printing from line-engraved plates is largely done by hand presses. The
ink used is very thick. When black it is made of finely pulverized
carbon, mixed with oil. Colored inks are composed of zinc white and dry
colors, ground in oil. The colors are animal, vegetable or mineral. The
latter cause the plates to wear out rapidly. Green is an especially
destructive color. In recent years aniline colors have been largely
employed. They afford an elaborate range of shades and color
combinations which are most puzzling to describe. Soluble inks are much
used by the leading English firm of stamp printers. They are very
sensitive to water and are regarded as one of the best preventatives of
the cleaning of used stamps. Beautiful results are obtained by printing
stamps in two colors. Of course, this necessitates the use of two plates
for each design. This also gives rise to some interesting varieties,
caused by one part of the design being printed upside down. Such
oddities are scarce and are highly valued by philatelists.

When a plate is to be printed from, it is first warmed, then the ink is
applied and rubbed into the lines with a pad. The surface of the plate
is wiped off with a cloth, then with the hand and lastly, polished with
whiting. A sheet of dampened paper is next laid on the plate and the
whole is passed under the roller of a press, which forces the paper into
the lines of the plate, where it takes up the ink. When the plate is
deeply engraved the ink seems to stand up from the surface of the paper
in ridges and some times we find corresponding depressions on the backs
of the stamps. The sheets are then dried, gummed and dried again. They
are now so much curled and wrinkled that they are placed between sheets
of bristol board and subjected to hydraulic pressure of several hundred
tons which effectively straightens them out.

The second process of printing from metallic plates is called
typography. The plates for this process are the exact reverse of those
engraved in _taille douce_. Instead of the design being cut into the
plate, it is on the surface and everything else is cut away. Hence, the
term "surface printing." This form of engraving is also called _épargné_
engraving, because the parts of the plate which bear the design are
_épargné_ (preserved.)

The dies for typographical plates are cut in wood or steel, usually the
former. They are reproduced by two methods, stereotyping and
electrotyping. In the former process casts of the die are taken in
papier maché or plaster of Paris. From these casts other casts are taken
in type-metal. A sufficient number of these casts are clamped together
or fastened to a backing of wood and thus form a plate. This process is
not much used for stamps. It may interest you to know that most of our
large newspapers employ this process. The type-set forms are, of course,
flat. From them papier maché impressions are taken and bent into a
curve, so that the casts made from them will fit the cylinders of the
printing presses.

In electrotyping, an impression is taken from the die in wax or gutta
percha. The surface of this impression is coated with powdered plumbago.
It is placed in a solution of sulphate of copper and, by the action of a
galvanic battery, a thin shell of copper is deposited on it. This shell
is backed with type-metal and is then ready for use. A number of these
elecrotypes may be fastened together and electrotyped in one piece.

There is also a photographic process for making typographical dies. This
is said to be used in making the stamps of France and her colonies.

[Illustration: Cliché with two stamps, "Colombia", 5 cents]

[Illustration: Cliché with two stamps, "Colonies de l'Empire Français",
10 c.]

Stereotypes or electrotypes of single stamps are called _clichés_. In
making up a plate it sometimes happens that a _cliché_ is placed upside
down. The result, after printing, is a stamp in that position. This is
called a _tête bêche_. We illustrate here such a stamp and another which
is semi _tête bêche_, i.e., turned half around instead of being entirely
inverted. Like all oddities these are prized by stamp collectors.

[Illustration: Stamp Arrangement, "Newfoundland", 3 pence]

The triangular stamps of the Cape of Good Hope and New Foundland are so
arranged in the plate that half of them are _tête bêche_ to the other
half. The same is true of the stamps of Grenada of the issue of 1883.

[Illustration: Stamp, "Hawaiian Postage", 5 cents]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Petersburg, Virgina", 5 cents]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Eranco en Guadalajara", 2 reales]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Ile de la Réunion", 15 centimes]

Another form of typography is found in stamps which are composed of
printer's type and ornaments. These are usually called "type-set", to
distinguish them from stamps produced by the normal process of
typography. Stamps made in this manner are often of a high degree of
rarity, having been produced in remote parts of the world, where
facilities were limited and the use of stamps restricted. To this class
belong the stamps of the first issues of British Guiana, Hawaii and
Reunion, which rank among the greatest philatelic rarities. We show you
here a number of type-set stamps. The first was used in the Hawaiian
Islands, in payment of postage on letters between the different islands.
There are a number of plates of these stamps, of different values, and
each containing ten varieties. The second stamp was issued by the
postmaster of Petersburg, Va., in the early days of the war of the
rebellion and before the postal service of the Confederate government
was in working order. The third was used in the city of Guadalajara,
Mexico, in 1869, during the war between France and that country. It was
made from the cancellation stamp in use in the post office, the usual
date being replaced by the value. The stamps were struck by hand on
sheets of paper which had been previously ruled into squares with a lead
pencil. The fourth stamp is one of the Reunion stamps previously
mentioned. There were eight stamps in the setting, four having a central
device like the stamp shown, and the other four being of a different

It is interesting to remark that most of these type-set stamps show an
evidence of their provisional nature and the stress under which they
were made, in the paper on which they were printed. It was usually
writing paper, such as would be found at a stationers at that period.
Some of the rare type-set stamps of British Guiana were printed on the
paper used for lining sugar barrels.

[Illustration: Stamp, "Shanghai LPO", 2 candareens]

The stamps of the first issue of Shanghai supply an unique variety in
typographed stamps. In these stamps the central design is cut upon a
block of ivory and the surroundings are set up from printer's type and
rules. The stamps were printed one at a time upon a hand press. The
value, in both English and Chinese, was changed as required, and it is
recorded that on occasions the different values were produced literally
"while you wait." Under such circumstances it is not surprising to learn
that minor varieties are very numerous.

In printing from typographical plates the ink is applied to the surface
by means of a roller. Impressions from these plates, before they have
been pressed, show the design forced into the paper, instead of raised
above it, as in _taille douce_ printing.

[Illustration: Stamp, "Confederate States", 5 cents]

There is often a noticeable difference in the impressions made from the
same plate by different workmen, owing to the varying degree of skill
and care employed. We frequently find in stamp catalogues such terms as
"London print" contrasted with "local print." These terms indicate a
fine impression and an inferior one. We find a good example in two five
cent stamps of the Confederate States. They are both from the same plate
but the first was printed in London by the skilled workmen of Messrs. De
La Rue & Co., and the last was locally made with poor facilities.

Embossing is a variety of printing connected with both line engraving
and typography. Embossing dies are produced by sinking lines in the
plate but, as a rule, they are intended for such productions as stamped
envelopes and the sunken portions are a series of hollows rather than
sharply cut lines. An envelope, viewed from the reverse, will give an
excellent idea of the appearance of such a die. In printing from these
dies very heavy pressure is used and the paper usually is backed by a
piece of leather or something of similar nature. In its simplest form
embossing is a stamping in relief without color. The stamp of Natal
shown here was produced in this manner. The stamps of Scinde, issued in
1850, were embossed and for the red one large wafers, at that date in
common use for sealing letters, were used. The brittle nature of this
material is probably responsible for the scarcity of this stamp,
especially of copies in fine condition.

[Illustration: Stamp, embossed, "Natal"]

[Illustration: Stamp, embossed, "Scinde District Dawk", ½ anna]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Halfpenny Postage"]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Heligoland", 2 Pfennig]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Bayern", 1 Kreuzer]

Embossing is usually combined with typography. The surface of the die
being inked, that part of the design is printed in color at the same
time that the rest is embossed. These three stamps show this class of
work, one being an envelope stamp with the head deeply embossed. The
Heligoland stamp like all the stamps of that island is in the local
colors, red, white and green, of which the inhabitants are so proud. In
the case of the Heligoland and Bavaria stamps the entire sheets are
embossed at one time and not each stamp singly, as is usual.


Some curious varieties of this sort of printing are found among the
early issues of Peru. The machine in use there printed the stamps one
at a time on long strips of paper. When the end of a strip was reached
another was attached to it with gum, in order that the process might be
continuous. It frequently happened that an impression was printed upon
or partly upon the overlapping ends of the strips. In the course of time
these ends became separated and thus we find stamps embossed partly with
and partly without color and occasionally entirely without it.
Philatelists call these varieties semi-albinos and albinos. The latter
term is also applied to envelope stamps which have been embossed without
the die being inked.

Lithography, while a simpler and less expensive mode of making stamps
than those previously described, is not often employed for the purpose.
The work is inferior in quality and too easily counterfeited to commend
itself. In lithography the lines of the design are neither sunken nor,
to any appreciable extent, raised above the surface. The design is
practically a drawing, in a certain greasy ink, upon stone of a
particular quality. When several colors are used, as in
chromo-lithography, a separate stone is prepared for each. The design is
sometimes drawn directly on the stone and at others transferred to it.
For stamps a die is made in wood, metal or stone. Impressions from this
are made in transfer ink (a very "fat" ink, made of soap, resin, tallow,
etc.) upon transfer paper. These impressions are placed, face downward,
on the stone and the paper is moistened. On being passed through a press
the ink adheres to the stone and the paper is easily removed. A wet
sponge is passed over the stone, the water adhering to the exposed
surface but not to the greasy ink. While it is moist a roller, covered
with transfer ink, is rolled over the designs to which it adheres. The
wetting and rolling are alternated until the designs have sufficient
body. Lastly, a very weak solution of nitric acid, gum arabic and water
is passed over the stone. This is at once washed off. It bites the stone
to a very trifling extent and serves to clean the surface and add
sharpness to the design.

Impressions taken from a lithographic stone are perfectly flat and
smooth, the surface of the paper being neither raised nor depressed.
They have usually a slightly greasy feel.

[Illustration, Stamp, "N. Caledonie", 10 c.]

An interesting specimen of lithography is supplied by the first issue of
New Caledonia. The design (fifty stamps in five rows of ten) was drawn
upon the stone by a sergeant of Marines, named Triquéra. It is said the
work was done with a pointed nail. As might be expected, it was very

Another interesting stamp was issued in the island of Trinidad in 1855.
In this case, the stone, after the designs had been placed upon it, was
very deeply bitten with acid, so that it might properly be called etched
and the impressions from it be said to be typographed from stone. This
stone was used in 1855, 1858 and 1860. Owing to its friable nature and
want of care the stone deteriorated, so that the last impressions from
it are little better than blurs.

Having considered the design and the methods of preparing plates and
printing stamps the next thing to attract our attention is the paper. We
here show you some photographs of paper. These were not taken by
reflected light but by transmitting light through the paper, so that we
have the fibre and structure of it.

[Illustration: Paper]

The two varieties of paper most used for stamps are termed wove and
laid. Wove paper has an even texture suggestive of cloth. Like cloth it
may show no grain when held to the light or it may have the appearance
of interwoven threads. The paper ordinarily used for books and
newspapers is wove. There is a very thin, tough wove paper, much like
that familiarly known as "onion-skin," which is called pelure by
philatelists. On a few occasions a wove paper, which is nearly as thick
as card board, has been used for stamps.

[Illustration: Paper]

Laid paper shows alternate light and dark lines, parallel and close
together. These lines are called _vergures_. There are usually other
lines, an inch or more apart, crossing the _vergures_ at right angles.

Ribbed paper has much the appearance of a fine closely laid paper. It
is, however, a wove paper with a corrugated surface. In oriental
countries, especially Japan, a peculiar, tough, cottony paper is
produced. It is sometimes wove and sometimes laid, usually thin and hard
to tear. I believe this is made from rice straw. Paper which has thin
lines about the distance apart of the ruled lines in writing paper is
called _batonné_, from the French _baton_, a stick or rule. If the
paper between the _batons_ is wove, it is called wove batonné. If the
space is filled with fine laid lines, it is called laid batonné.
_Quadrillé_ paper has laid lines which form small squares. When these
lines form rectangles, it is called oblong quadrillé.

[Illustration: Paper]

[Illustration: Paper]

[Illustration: Paper]

Some of the stamps of Mexico were printed on paper ruled with blue
lines. This was merely ordinary foolscap paper. Many of the early stamps
of Russia were on a paper having the surface coated with a soluble
enamel. This not only gave a very fine impression but, on an attempt to
clean a cancelled stamp, the enamel would wash off, carrying the design
with it.

Two stamps of Prussia, issued in 1866, are usually said to be on
gold-beater's skin. But they are really on a very thin tough paper which
has been treated with shellac, parrafine, or something which makes it
transparent, and afterwards coated with a gelatine preparation. On this
the design was printed reversed, i.e. only to be seen correctly when
viewed through the paper. The stamps were gummed on the printed side.
When they were affixed to an envelope any attempt to soak them off
resulted in the paper coming away while the design adhered to the
envelope, like a decalcomanie. Essays of this nature were made in a
number of countries, including our own, but Prussia was the only one to
make and use the stamps.

There are several varieties of paper which have threads of silk or other
fibre. The first of these is known as Dickinson paper, from the name of
its inventor. It has one or two threads of silk incorporated in the
paper in the course of manufacture. For stamped envelopes two threads
were generally used. They were placed about half an inch apart and the
envelope was usually so printed that the threads would cross the stamp.
For adhesive stamps only one thread was used. Great Britain and several
of the German States made extensive use of this paper. It has never been
successfully counterfeited. The best imitation was made by gumming
together two thin pieces of paper with a silk thread between them but
the fraud was not difficult to detect.

Some of the United States revenue stamps were printed on a paper which
had a few bits of silk fibre scattered through it. The paper called
granite or silurian has a quantity of colored threads mixed with the
pulp. In Switzerland blue and red threads were used, giving the paper a
slightly grayish tone. In Servia only red threads were used but in
sufficient quantity to make the paper appear a faint rose color.

Manila is a coarse buff paper made from manila fibre. It is generally
used for newspaper wrappers.

It will scarcely be necessary to say that paper is found in a great
variety of colors and that such colored paper has frequently been used
for stamps.

We cannot consider paper without treating of watermarks, since they are
made in the process of paper making and constitute an important feature
of stamp paper. Watermarks are designs impressed in the paper pulp. The
paper is slightly thinner in the lines of these designs and appears
lighter when held to the light. Of course you are all familiar with this
appearance from having noticed the watermarks in note paper. On rare
occasions the watermark is a thickening of the paper instead of a
thinning. In such a case the watermark appears more opaque than the
paper. Watermarks in paper used for stamps are, of course, intended as a
security against counterfeiting.

[Illustration: Watermark U.S.P. (mirrored letters)]

There are a great variety of watermarks; words, letters, figures,
heraldic devices, etc., etc. Sometimes the design covers the whole sheet
and at other times several stamps, but usually there is a separate
watermark for each stamp. The current stamps of the United States are
watermarked with the letters "U. S. P. S.", United States Postal
Service. This is so set up that the letters read in sequence from any
point and in any direction. At one time several of the British colonies
in Australia employed paper watermarked with a figure or word of the
value of the stamp intended to be printed on it. It can readily be
understood that these would sometimes get mixed and result in more of
those oddities in which philatelists delight.

[Illustration: Watermark, Crown with letters CC]

[Illustration: Watermark, Crown with letters CA]

[Illustration: Watermarks, Cross and Orb, Anchor, Elephant Head,
Pine-Apple, Castle]

[Illustration: Water Marks, Post Horn, Turtle, Geneva Cross]

Here are some well-known watermarks. The letters CC under the Crown
stand for "Crown Colonies." This was extensively used on stamps of the
British Colonies. It has been replaced by a similar design, lettered CA,
"Crown Agents for the Colonies," which is still in use. A great variety
of crowns have been used, as also of stars. The cross and orb are found
on stamps of Great Britain. The anchor belongs to the Cape of Good Hope,
the elephant to India, the pine-apple to Jamaica, the castle to Spain
(where else would we have castles if not in Spain?) the post horn to
Denmark, the turtle to Tonga. The Geneva cross belongs to Switzerland
but is not really a watermark, as it is impressed in the paper after the
stamps are printed. The pyramid and sun and the star and crescent both
belong to Egypt. The lion comes from Norway, the sun from the Argentine
Republic, the wreath of oak leaves from Hanover, the lotus flower from

[Illustration: US. POD '99]

[Illustration: Double eagle]

[Illustration: Watermark, Pyramid, Moon and Star]

[Illustration: Watermark, Lion with Axe, Sun, Wreath, Flower]

Here is one from Travancore, it represents a shell sacred to the god
Vishnu. On the stamps of Shanghai we find these Chinese characters. They
read Kung Pu, literally labor board, otherwise Municipal Council, by
whose authority the stamps were issued.

[Illustration: Watermark, Shell]

[Illustration: Watermark, Chinese Characters]

The watermarks on the preceding page are from envelopes of the United
States and Russia. Of course there are many more watermarks than those
we show. On many sheets there are watermarked borders with the name of
the country, the word "postage," or other inscriptions.

There is much that is interesting in paper making. The best paper is
made from linen rags but many other substances are used, cotton rags,
esparto grass, straw, etc. Very common paper, such as that used for the
daily newspapers, is made from wood pulp. Paper is made in two ways, by
hand and by machinery.

Hand made paper is made by means of a mould and a deckle. A mould is a
piece of fine wire gauze, tightly stretched on a wooden frame. If the
paper is to be laid, coarser lines are woven in the gauze. If it is to
be watermarked, the designs, made of wire bent in the desired shape or
of bits of metal, are fastened to the surface. A deckle is a narrow
wooden frame which fits on and around the sides of the mould. The deckle
is movable, in order that it may be used with more than one mould. The
mould is dipped in paper pulp and a quantity taken upon it. It is then
shaken, to make the pulp cover the whole surface evenly and rid it of
water. The edges of the resulting sheet are, naturally, rough and
irregular and are called deckle edges.

To make the paper pulp the rags are first boiled with soda and lime, to
rid them of dirt and grease. They are then macerated in a vat, through
which fresh water continually flows. When thoroughly ground the pulp is
treated with a bleaching fluid which removes all color. It is then
pressed and is ready for use. When about to be used the pulp is mixed
with water and color is added if desired. When the paper is to be made
by machinery the pulp is allowed to flow slowly from the vat upon a
wide, endless band, usually made of fine wire gauze but occasionally of
canvas or other form of cloth. This band is stretched upon rollers and
travels slowly forward while, at the same time, it is shaken from side
to side to distribute the pulp. Two narrow bands of India rubber are
stretched lengthwise of the gauze band and resting upon it. They serve
to confine the pulp and regulate the width of the paper. These bands are
also called deckles and produce the same edge as the frame used in
making hand-made paper.

As the pulp moves along with the gauze band it passes under a roller
called the "dandy roll." The covering of this roll determines the
character of the paper. When the paper is to be wove, it is covered with
wire gauze. If it is to be watermarked the designs are attached to the
surface of the roll and duly pressed into the paper. To make laid paper
the surface of the roll is covered with longitudinal wires, with spaces
the width of a wire between them. Rings of wire pass around the roll at
regular intervals and hold the longitudinal wires in place. For
_batonné_ paper, there are thick longitudinal wires at intervals and
between them either smaller wires or gauze, as the paper is to be laid
_batonné_ or wove _batonné_. After passing the dandy roll the paper goes
over a number of rollers covered with felt and cylinders heated by
steam, until it is dry. It is then sized, dried again, pressed between
heavy rollers, to give it a surface, and the edges trimmed by revolving
cutters. It is then wound up in a roll or cut into sheets, as may be

Having duly considered the design, printing and paper of stamps, the
next thing to attract our attention is the gum. Most gums are prepared
from potato starch, dextrin or gum arabic. Gelatin is sometimes added to
supply body and glycerine to give smoothness. Gum varies much in
thickness and color. The first three cent stamp of the Danish West
Indies furnishes an instance of this. The stamps were sent from Denmark
without gum, as is frequently done with stamps for tropical countries.
When they reached the islands the stamps were given to two druggists to
be gummed. One used gum of good quality and, light color, while the
other used poor material and of so dark color as to stain the paper and
even darken the ink of the stamps. In Hanover rose-colored gum was used
for a number of issues. Some of the earliest local prints of the South
African Republic were made upon paper sent out ready gummed from
Germany. The paper was much wrinkled by the gum and the effect may be
seen in the wavy and broken lines of the ink.

The stamps of the first issue of Reunion were sold ungummed and were
affixed to letters in any way that pleased the writers. Some were
fastened by wafers and some even were pinned on.

Formerly, sheets of stamps to be gummed were fastened in a frame and the
gum applied by hand with a large brush. They were then sent to the
drying room and hung up to dry. Now the process is entirely mechanical.
The sheets are fed into a machine in which they first pass under a
gummed roller. Then they are carried on an endless chain through a long
box filled with steam pipes and emerge at the further end dry and ready
to be pressed and perforated.

The subject of perforations is also worthy of some brief attention. The
first stamps were imperforate, necessitating the use of scissors or
other instrument in separating them. This was a manifest inconvenience.
In 1847, Henry Archer, an Irishman, began experimenting with machines
for perforating stamps. After a number of attempts he succeeded in
making a machine which was accepted by the English government and for
which, in 1852, he was allowed a compensation of £4,000. James M. Napier
greatly improved on this machine and adapted it for steam power.

The general principle of all perforating machines is a series of hollow
needles, which remove rows of small disks of the paper from between the
stamps, and thus fit them to be readily torn apart. For convenience of
reference and description philatelists have adopted, as a standard of
measurement, the space of two centimetres. The gauge of a perforation is
determined by the number of holes in this distance. Scales have been
prepared for measuring perforations but it would be superfluous to
attempt to describe them here. One of the largest perforations that has
been used for stamps has seven holes in two centimetres. This was used
on the stamps of France by Susse Freres, a firm of stationers. It was
done for the convenience of themselves and their customers. Some of the
stamps of Mexico have a still larger perforation gauging 5½. The
finest gauge is about 19. This is an unofficial perforation and was
applied to some of the early stamps of Tasmania.

[Illustration: Perforation]

[Illustration: Perforation]

[Illustration: Perforation]

[Illustration: Perforation]

We show you here a variety of perforations. The first two are ordinary
perforations of different gauges, 9½ and 14. The third shows a
perforation in square holes instead of round. The next is an example of
pin perforation, the holes being far apart and small. Two sides of the
stamp show the holes before the stamps have been torn apart and a third
side shows the ragged effect produced by separating them. Another form
of pin perforation is made by needles which are not hollow and merely
prick holes in the paper without removing any of it. This sort of
perforation has sometimes been made by a sewing machine with an
unthreaded needle.

[Illustration: Perforation]

The last form of perforation shown is called lozenge. In this the
machine removes small diamond shaped pieces from the paper. The effect
before the separation is shown between the pair of stamps, while the
outer edges show the appearance of single copies.

[Illustration: Perforation]

A variety of machines are used in perforating stamps. One perforates
only a single row of holes at a time. This is known as the guillotine
machine because its action suggests that unpleasant instrument. Another
machine is called the comb machine because the needles are arranged to
perforate across the top of a row of stamps and at the same time between
the stamps of that row. This arrangement somewhat resembles a comb. It
will be seen that the first application perforates the stamps of one
row on three sides. The application of the machine to the next row below
completes the fourth side. In the best perforating machines the needles
are arranged in circles around a spindle. The sheets pass under this
roller and are perforated in one direction. A similar machine makes the
perforations in the other direction.

There is another form of separation called rouletting, from the French
"roulette", a little wheel, its simplest form being produced by a small
wheel with an edge of sharp points. By this process a series of small
cuts is made between the stamps but none of the paper is removed.

[Illustration: Rouletting, Large Gauge]

[Illustration: Rouletting, Small Gauge]

In these two illustrations are shown roulettes of large and small gauge.
The same result is also obtained by setting printers rules which have a
notched edge between the _clichés_ which compose the plate. These rules
are set a trifle higher than the _clichés_ so that, when the sheet of
paper is pressed against the plate in printing, the points of the rules
are forced through it. These points receive ink the same as other parts
of the surface of the plate and the effect thus produced is called
rouletting in colored lines.

[Illustration: Rouletting Forms]

[Illustration: Rouletting Forms]

There are a number of systems which produce the effect of rouletting in
a variety of fancy forms. One is called _percé en arc_. This produces a
series of arches on one stamp and a series of scallops on the adjacent
one. Here is an example of this rouletting, in a small gauge. A similar
form is called serpentine perforation. It is here shown.

[Illustration: Rouletting Forms]

[Illustration: Rouletting Forms]

Still another form leaves the edges of the stamps in sharp points. This
is called _percé en scie_ or saw-tooth perforation. When this
perforation is very fine it is called serrate. There is still another
form of rouletting, which we also show you. It is called rouletting in
oblique parallel cuts and consists of a row of short cuts placed
obliquely and parallel to each other. Stamps thus rouletted have a very
ragged edge when torn apart. This roulette was only used in Tasmania and
was a private production.

[Illustration: Burelage]

[Illustration: Control Number, 70]

[Illustration: Moirée Pattern]

One of the nightmares of every government is the fear that its
securities will be counterfeited or tampered with. I have several times
mentioned precautions against such abuses in the shape of fine
engraving, watermarks, enameled paper, sensitive inks, etc. There are
numerous other devices which have been used with the same end in view.
The patterns here shown were printed on the backs of the stamps in blue
ink. The first is a band of interlaced lines, called a _burelage_. The
second is a sort of control number. The number differs for each stamp on
the sheet. The third resembles the lines in watered silk and is called
_moirée_. It covers the entire back of the sheet. Sometimes the stamps
are covered with a network which only becomes visible on the application
of certain chemicals. In this country the experiment has been tried of
breaking the fibre of the paper by pressing into the stamps a group of
tiny pyramids, called a grill. The idea was that the cancelling ink
would penetrate the broken paper and could not be removed.

We cannot finish our study of the material side of stamps without
reference to another feature, i.e., surcharges. Correctly speaking, a
surcharge is an added charge, but in philately the term is applied to a
variety of overprints, the majority of which indicate a reduction rather
than an increase in value. Years ago the word surcharge usually
suggested a makeshift, something of a temporary nature prepared to meet
an emergency and, therefore, interesting and likely to become valuable.
But our little weaknesses are now well understood by those who are
exploiting the commercial side of postage stamps and we have reason to
fear that many recent surcharges were made for revenue only and not from
any real necessity. The majority of surcharges are made to supply a
value which has been temporarily exhausted. For example, many of the
British Colonies obtained their supplies of stamps in London. It may
happen that an order is not placed early enough or there is delay in
filling it and delivering the stamps. Owing to this, the values most in
use may be exhausted. Under such circumstances, it is customary to
provide a temporary supply by printing the needed value on some other
stamp, usually one of higher value. To use a lower value would tempt the
counterfeiting of the surcharge, for the profit to be made through the
increased value.

[Illustration: Stamp, "Mauritius", surcharged 4 cents]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Gibraltar", surcharged 5 centimos]

There are, however, a variety of other surcharges, a few of which may
interest you. The first two stamps indicate a change in the form of the
currency of the country, from pence to cents in Mauritius and from the
English half penny to its Spanish equivalent in Gibraltar. The
Seychelles stamp was prepared to meet a change in the rate for letters
to countries in the International Postal Union.

[Illustration: Stamp, "Seychelles", surcharged 8 cents]

[Illustration: Stamp, "St. Helena", surcharged 1 penny]

The first stamp made in St. Helena was a six pence. For a long time no
other value was engraved but the six pence stamps were printed in a
variety of colors and surcharged with the desired values. The Ceylon
stamp has been made available for revenue purposes, as well as postal.
The last stamp shown is from Shanghai. Its original value was 100 cash.
This was overprinted "20 cash" and the equivalent Chinese characters in
a double-lined frame, and again surcharged "100 cash."

[Illustration: Stamp, "Ceylon", 15 cents, surcharged 5 cents, Postage,

[Illustration: Stamp, "Shanghai LPO", 100 cash, surcharged 20 cash,
surcharged again 100 cash]

There is an interesting bit of history connected with these surcharges.
The supply of 20 cash stamps was exhausted and the postmaster surcharged
that value on eight hundred of the 100 cash stamps. A tourist, learning
this and knowing that the regular 20 cash stamps were expected to arrive
at any moment, bought the entire lot. But the expected stamps failed to
arrive and the postmaster made a second lot of surcharges but on the 80
cash this time. When the tourist learned this he wished to return the
stamps he had bought. The postmaster refused to take them back but,
pressure being brought through the Municipal Council, finally consented.
In the mean time the 20 cash stamps had arrived and, not needing
provisionals of that value, he restored them to their original value by
the second surcharge, "100 cash."

[Illustration: Stamp, 1 penny, surcharged "Cyprus", 30 paras]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Antigua", surcharged "Montserrat"]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Bermuda", surcharged "Gilbraltar"]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Straits Settlement", surcharged "Perak"]

This group illustrates stamps of one country or state surcharged for use
in another. For a long time Cyprus was supplied by overprinting the
stamps of Great Britain. In like manner Montserrat was surcharged on
Antigua stamps, Gibraltar on Bermuda and Perak on the Straits
Settlements. In the case of Gibraltar some of the stamps were printed in
other colors than were used in Bermuda. The colony of Eritrea has always
been supplied by overprinting the Italian stamps.

[Illustration: Fives]

In 1883 a large quantity of stamps were stolen in Cuba and to prevent
their being used the remaining stock were overprinted with the devices
shown here. These were the _clichés_ used to print the control numbers
on the tickets of the Havana lottery.

[Illustration: Stamp, "Z. Afr. Republiek", 1 penny, surcharged "Transvaal"]

[Illustration: Stamp, "Transvaal Postage", 6 pence, surcharged "Z.A.R",
2 pence]

Sometimes surcharges are the outcome of historic events or are at least
suggestive of such. The first stamp in this group is one of the crude
products of the South African Republic, which was surcharged during the
British occupation of the country. The second is a stamp issued during
the same occupation and surcharged after the Boers again came into
power. The Chilian coat of arms on the stamps of Peru tells its own
story of war and invasion. Lastly we have a stamp of Fiji on which the
initials "C.R.", Cakambau Rex, are overprinted with the "V.R." of the
Queen of England.

[Illustration: Stamp, "Correos del Peru", 1 centavo]


[Illustration: Stamp, "Fiji", surcharched "V.R."]

During the Carlist insurrection in Spain, the stamps of France,
surcharged with a _fleur de lys_ surrounded by a five-rayed star, were
used by Don Carlos to frank his correspondence across the frontier into
France. These stamps were in use for only a brief period, pending the
preparation and issue of the Carlist stamps.

[Illustration: Stamp, Poland]

It may be remarked that there are many suggestions of history in stamps
that are not surcharged. The succession of portraits and other devices
in the issues of a country is often eloquent of the march of great
events, and there is a touch of pathos in Poland's solitary stamp.

Finally, I wish to call your attention to a few stamps which tell most
interesting stones, and which have a touch of mysticism and symbolism,
which is not of to-day.

[Illustration: Stamp, "Correos Mexico", ½ real]

The coat of arms of Mexico has its origin in the distant past. General
Lew Wallace says in his historical romance the _Fair God_: "The site of
the city of Tenochtitlan was chosen by the gods. In the south-western
border of Lake Tezcuco, one morning in 1300, a wandering tribe of Aztecs
saw an eagle perched, with outspread wings, upon a cactus, and holding a
serpent in its talons. At a word from their priests, they took
possession of the marsh and there stayed their migration and founded the
city; such is the tradition. As men love to trace their descent back to
some stoned greatness, nations delight to associate the gods with their

[Illustration: Stamp, Persia]

Many stamps of Persia bear the lion and the sun, the arms of the country
and the insignia of its highest order of nobility. It is the lion of
Iran, holding in its paw the sceptre of the Khorassan while behind it
shines the sun of Darius. There is a legend concerning the latter symbol
to the effect that Darius, hunting in the desert, threw his spear at a
lion and missed. The beast crouched to spring, when the sun, shining on
a talisman on Darius' breast, so overpowered it that it came fawning to
his feet and followed him back to the city. And for this reason the sun
became part of the arms of the kingdom. But I think we may look further
than this and find in it a relic of the ancient fire worship and of
oriental pretentions to power over heaven and earth.

[Illustration: Stamp, Egypt, 5 para]

How much of Egypt's myths and splendors are here depicted; the temple
column called Pompey's pillar, the obelisk of Luxor, the mighty
pyramids, last of all the sphynx, that fabled creature with the face of
a woman, the body of a tigress and the heart of both. In fancy we can
see her, crouched on a rock beside the great highway to Thebes,
propounding her fatal riddle to the bewildered passers by, till Oedipus
shall come.

[Illustration: Stamp, Turkey]

On the stamps and coins of Turkey we miss the portrait of the reigning
sovereign, which we find on such issues of most monarchies. This is due
to a law of Mohammed, which forbids the reproduction of the human
figure. On the stamps we find the crescent, said to have been the emblem
of the Byzantine empire and adopted by the Turks after the fall of
Constantinople. We also find an elaborate device called the Toughra or
signature of the Sultan. It owes its origin to the Sultan Murad I, a
liberal sovereign and founder of many schools and institutions of
learning but unable to write his own name. He signed imperial decrees by
dipping his fingers in ink and placing them on the documents with three
fingers close together and the little finger and thumb extended. In
course of time this was adopted and, so to speak, consecrated as the
signature of the Sultan. It was also elaborated and arranged to form a
written phrase, while preserving, in a general way, its original form.
The toughra contains certain characters which are permanent and minor
ones which change. The latter are the names of the sovereign and his
father. Thus the toughra which we illustrate reads: "His Majesty Abdul
Hamid, son of Mejid, may he be always victorious." The small inscription
at the side reads "_el ghazi_," the victorious, one of the titles of the
Sultan. The toughra is often referred to as the hand. In an article
published in 1867 I find the following on this subject:

[Illustration: [Arabic: El Ghazi]]

"The hand has to Mussulmen three mystic significations; it denotes
providence; it is the expression of law; and thirdly, of power; it
restores the courage of the faithful and strikes terror to the hearts of
their enemies.

"As an emblem of law, the Mussulman thus explains the meaning of the
hand. It has five fingers, each, with the exception of the thumb, having
three joints, all the fingers are subordinate to the unity of the hand,
their common foundation. The five fundamental precepts of the law are:
1st--Belief in God and his prophet. 2nd--Prayer. 3rd--Giving alms.
4th--Fasting during the sacred months and at the appointed times.
5th--Visiting the temples of Mecca and Medina. Each of these precepts
admits of three divisions, except the first, symbolized by the thumb,
which has only two, _heart_ and _work_. These dogmas and their
modifications have for their source the central doctrine of the unity of
God; and all the creed of Mohametanism is contained in the hand,--the
five fingers and their forty joints.

"The hand placed above the gates of the Alhambra, upon the Sultan's
seal, and upon the stamps, symbolises the spiritual and temporal power
which protects the good and the faithful and punishes their

[Illustration: Stamp, "Korea", 5 Poon]

This stamp is from Corea, the Land of the Morning Calm. In the corners
are the plum blossom, the royal flower of the present dynasty which has
existed over 500 years. In the four corners of the central square are
letters taken from the original alphabet of all languages and
representing the four spirits that stand at the four corners of the
earth and support it on their shoulders. The central device is an
ancient Chinese symbol which represents the dual principle in nature,
the male and the female, the beginning and the end, the union of all
opposite forces, of which the highest product is man. This symbol
pervades all oriental art and thought. Those of you who have seen
Vedder's illustrations of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam will remember the
ever recurring swirl which "represents the gradual concentration of the
elements that combine to form life; the sudden pause through the reverse
of the movement that marks the instant of life, and then the gradual,
ever-widening dispersion again of these elements into space." The swirl
is only another form of the Chinese symbol.

A postage stamp is a tiny thing but it holds in its pictured space
thoughts that embrace the beginning and the end of things, life, death
and--we know not what.



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